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Sun 29 Jun 2008 10:20 AM

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UAE considers controversial water technology

UAE studies water produced from treated waste water, purified by advanced technologies.

The UAE is closely studying the controversial water reclamation technology used by Singapore to become self-sufficient in water, it has emerged.

Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, minister of environment and water, told UAE daily Gulf News the emirates could learn from Singapore’s experience and enhance existing applications to ensure sufficient water supply.

Fahd, who is attending the Singapore International Water Week, did not confirm whether the UAE was considering the same technology employed by Singapore, the newspaper said.

He said the UAE will still rely heavily on desalination technology, which produces the majority of the country’s water.

“Singapore is really at the forefront in many areas when it comes to environmental issues. Its water conservation measures and (water recycling) technology are some of the areas that we want to look closely,” he told the newspaper.

Singapore has been using high-grade reclaimed water called NeWater, which is produced from treated waste water that is purified further using advanced membrane technologies.

NeWater is said to be ultra-clean and even safe to drink, as it has passed more than 30,000 scientific tests and surpassed World Health Organisation requirements.

Although it’s safe for drinking, majority of the “reclaimed” water is used by commercial and industrial firms and only about 2%, which is mixed with the city’s raw reservoir water, is used “indirectly” by households, according to Yap Kheng Guan, director of 3P Network Department of the Public Utilities Board (PUB).

Singapore has three NeWater factories, with a fourth currently being built under a public-private partnership agreement.

Currently, the PUB blends 23,000 cubic metres of neWater with the reservoirs’ raw water, which is then treated and supplied as drinking water.

Singapore plans to increase the amount to 46,000 cubic metres by 2011.

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Hussain M 11 years ago

It's called MBR or Membrane Bio Reactors. It uses specialised filters to hold back sludge and ensure the passage of clean water thru the membranes along with an anoxic reactor and hypogenerators. The resulting water is then sent to an RO plant and treated into clean drinking water. Where drinking water should contain no more than 500 parts per million, treated effluent water contains less than 250 ppm. It's a proven technology, however the controversy lies in ethical and sociological negativity towards the idea of drinking treated wastewater, many Islamic clerics have deemed the technology blasphemous despite the fact that the gulf is going to face a water crisis unseen before. Personally i say go for it.